Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Despite my extreme pessimism about this week, despite the fact that we launched a massive new ad/sale campaign this week, despite the fact that I have not quite gotten enough sleep... things are really going so well!

On Sunday, the producer of our church's summer musical program took over rehearsal so that I could stay home and get to sleep before being at work at 3AM. I was dreading this... but amazingly, I popped up awake and mostly alert and went to work for the first day of our new promotion. It was crazy busy, but we found out yesterday that out of all the stores in our area, we were beat out of first place in sales by only two sandwiches. Not bad, especially considering that our contending store is on the highway to D.C. and we're in little ole' SOMO.

Because of my early arrival, I got off around 11AM and headed home to spend a few hours working on my lesson plans for my two classes, then poured myself into a hot tub to soak and read some... I did dutifully read my chapter of Silas Marner (I always enjoy this novel while I'm reading it... but for some reason I never seem to look forward to reading it. Odd) but I also indulged my inner child and non-English-major alter ego by reading... this. *sigh* Mock away - I can't help myself! :)

I hung out for awhile and I think I rolled over and turned out the light around 9...

Ok, to be completely fair, if there has been a "bad day" in my week so far, this would be it. Even though I spent so much time preparing my lessons, I then left all my printed materials - handouts, homework, etc - on my dresser and left without it. I didn't realize this until after we'd gone halfway there and made our Tuesday morning coffee stop, so I had to turn around and go back for it, thus arriving only 15-20 minutes early instead of my usual hour. That incident just kind of set the tone for the rest of the day... I felt like I was putting out fires most of the time.

It was a nice surprise to find out that voice lessons had been canceled, since I felt a bit like a dishrag at this point. I ferried Allen off to his biweekly Tang So Do session, came home and read through a few of my blogs, and trundled off to bed around 7.

For some reason, I don't tend to sleep well when there's a full moon. I don't know if there really is some magnetic connection between the chemistry of the human brain and the moon's gravitation, as some of my physics-smart friends have claimed, or if I just don't sleep as well when there's more light in the room, but I just tend to sleep really lightly during the days directly before, during, and after the full moon, and I dream really intensely about what is going on in my life. Even though I went to bed early, I kept waking up every few hours feeling unsettled, and at one point I couldn't go back to sleep until - you guessed it! - it was 2 AM and time to get up anyway. I was not a very awake person today at work, but at least I was off in my own workstation so I wasn't in anybody's way. :)

One of my co-workers was also getting off at 11AM, so we went to lunch together, and I did a very little bit of shopping afterwards, more looking that actual buying (I'll share my few finds with you later on this week). In the afternoon I lay on my bed watching Stargate: SG1 (I am so addicted it's not. even. funny.). Dinner with my family, then I read through my favorite blogs, wrote the weekly emails for my classes, and wrote this post. Now I'm off for a shower and probably I'll rewind with just one more SG1 episode before I get to sleep in... all the way to 5AM. Am I pathetic or what? :)

The rest of my week should be *knock on wood* fairly easy compared to the first half of this week. I don't have to be at work any earlier than 6, and my list of weekend projects is small. Plus, I have something to look forward to - babysitting my cousin Abigail for the first time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Little Bit of Rhyme

Just a poem I've been working on today instead of a real post... because I'm lazy! :)

Exhaustion is a burden -
I mean this literally.
It has a precise weight, an exact shape
and rests between the shoulders
As anyone knows who has worked until their feet
and soul, were sore.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fair Weather!

Although I have fond, fond childhood memories of going to the county fair as a child (back when our family was a family of four or five, before we became a family of eight), I probably haven't been in more than a decade. For some reason this year my family has rediscovered the county fair - my dad took the kids last night while my mom and I holed up after a really long night with a movie, and today Maggie and I went to explore.

Ok - let me just take this opportunity to say that I love Southern Maryland and, while I love to travel, love to go places and see things and explore the difference, I like coming home to a place that is vibrant and beautiful and often undervalued. I like being a native. I realize that for the first time in my life do I really feel like I'm part of a community, and it's a good feeling.

Now, back to the fair...

We started off our exploration in the livestock barns. While I gravitate towards cute furry animals, Maggie loves big ugly animals. I don't understand this. But she insisted on having her picture taken by the cows. She loves cows and wants one, and is continually thinking about ways to fit one onto our little hobby farm. Despite the fact that she and five other people in our family of eight are severely allergic to everything dairy. Like I said, I don't get it.

We both agreed that this adorable teddy-bear-faced sheep was one of the cutest things we'd ever seen. He was posing right up until I got out my camera and then suddenly turned away, so I took half a dozen pictures trying to capture his cuteness.

Piggies count as big and ugly in my book, but these sleeping pair were kind of cute...

See that beak peeking out? Yes, this is a chicken. I believe he was distantly related in some way to the late Poufy (the name says it all, but I will try to go and find a photo later when one of the kids are around) whom we had for a short time this summer before his untimely disappearance.

Maggie also posed beside the giant pumpkin winner. This is one of those displays that I can remember as a kid... but they seemed bigger back them! :)

I never remember going into the art displays as a child, but Maggie and I did go in and we found some real winners! I love art anyway, so to be surrounded by amateur art was like heaven!

This painting won first place in the middle school category... I absolutely love it, so much so that I checked the label for a "seller info" tab, but there was none. If it had been for sale I would have bought it if I could have possibly afforded it. The picture cannot begin to show the beauty.

I also thought this picture was fun... it looks inspired by Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending A Staircase" which has always been one of my favorite pictures. This one appears to be a person playing a guitar.

And... just because I'm a nerd and I love mod art (take that, John Patrick!) I loved this piece. It reminds me vaguely of my father's computer workshop when I was small, and all the components and motherboards, etc.

All in all, I enjoyed the fair greatly! Even a little rain that fell while we were watching the pig and duck racing (yes, pig and duck racing) didn't hamper my fun.

On to more news...

I'm not the only one playing with new clothes this weekend - Ranger got a new sweater! It seems like whenever I have way too much to do anyway, I get the urge to crochet. I think it was the cool weather we had today... or looking through old photos of Colby the Chihuahua in the sweaters I made him last year... but I suddenly got an irresistable itch for yarn. No harm, no foul - it only took about an hour, and I really did complete everything else I had to get done. :)

Isn't he cute?

Friday, September 25, 2009

All Hail... The Weekend!

And let the weekend begin! Not a moment too soon!

Our brand new manager looked at me as I bought coffee after work and sympathised, "This has been a pretty rotten week for you, hasn't it?" to which I had to agree. He then brightened up a little and added, "Well, at least I can honestly say you've kept smiling through everything!"

This is true. I have kept smiling, even when I felt like crying, yelling, sulking, snapping, or whining. It felt like the universe was struggling against me this week... I was relatively good-natured about it, figuring it would right itself with a little time, but even today (which I had banked on as a good-day sure-thing) turned out to be fraught with roadblocks. Gah! I've finally decided it's just one of those weeks that you write off, forget, and start again come Monday.

Except that... I have this very awful feeling that next week is going to be a do-over of this one. For starters, I have two days where I'm scheduled to work at 3:30 AM. I don't know... somehow I thought I had given up third shift, but arriving at work at 3:30 AM seems awfully third-shifty to me. Secondly, one of our managers is on vacation this week, which means my usual manager has been pushed to second shift all week, and things just never seem to run quite right when he's absent for longer than a day or so. And lastly, we are starting a brand new promotion at work on Monday, so we will be even busier than normal. I'm no prophet, but this does not seem like a recipe for a good time.

My plans for the weekend? I just returned from a quick errand run, and I now intend to go crawl onto a comfy king-size bed and watch movies with my mom (which is a rare, rare occurrence). I brought home "Boy In The Striped Pajamas" from the library, and on a whim grabbed "Wait Until After Dark" not realizing it was a thriller. All the better. :) Now all I need is a pair of hot mitts to protect my newly DIY-manicured nails and I'm good!

I intend to sleep in tomorrow... heh... and then Maggie and I are going to go explore the county fair with a friend of mine from work. In the afternoon, I have two projects to work on, one for our homeschool co-op and one for work, and I also need to get my act together for my classes on Tuesday (I seem to run through my time way faster than I want to... time to learn to manager my class better).

On Sunday I have church as usual, and in the afternoon I will be delivering promotional materials for work. Sunday afternoon, I have a rehearsal for our church musical program, then I will run, run, RUN home to bed for a few hours of sleep before getting back up again at 2 AM - ugh! - and begin my week again.

I hope that everyone has a terrific weekend and a week that is more restful than mine! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I So Severely Need A Nap... Part II?

Two posts about being tired in a row? Apparently so! :) Suffice to say I love teaching, but Tuesdays are really, really long.

First, a couple of resources... Sarah over at the Chic Mummy blog is offering a special deal for membership. I've blogged about how much I love ABCTeach before, and this deal cuts the $40 membership down to $20/year. Worth it. Do it. Let me know how much you love it. :)

Also, I just got an email announcing that Adam Andrews of The Center for Literacy Education is offering free shipping on his worldview supplement curriculum, which will equip you to take your literary criticism to a higher level, answering questions such as, "What does this story say about the nature of man? What sort of a person is God? Can man control his own destiny? What is love? What is beauty? Can we agree with the answers this story gives?" I have it, and I have loaned it out - that's how good it is. It comes with a set of DVD's that demonstrate the use of this supplement. Again, worth it.

As to my life... I've been dealing with some issues and questions in my life lately that have left me, quite frankly, drained. I have finally just come to grips with this and decided that rather than try and push through and accomplish everything, I am just going to try to rework my to-do list to a more realistic scale and take a little extra downtime.

In that spirit, I spent the weekend at home rather than running errands or trying to accomplish everything in sight. Instead, I slept in and spent the day alternately curled up with my sister (who I feel I haven't really 'seen' much lately, due to my crazy work schedule and her multiple appointments) watching Stargate: SG1, spending my small bursts of energy cleaning my room and getting my closet/wardrobe autumnized. I wondered while I was purposefully "wasting time" if I would regret not "cramming" in some more tasks, but in hindsight I am so glad I did. Somehow having my space neat and organized, and being able to tell at an instant what's clean and what's in the laundry makes everything else go so much more smoothly.

The rest of my week's "to do list" includes putting together a care package for a friend, organizing my "Favorites" tab so I can actually locate and use all the resources I've collected, and starting up my reading habit again. I need to remember to feed and rest my soul - I need to be learning and reading, but I feel like I often lose sight of that as a goal in the midst of other things. On the other hand, when my inner self is being taken care of, all the external "tasks" just seem to be so much more manageable. Something to remind myself of.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I so severely need a nap...

I was lamenting to one of my friends today that though the last three years of being a full-time student were crazy, busy, and hard, I somehow always made it home for an hour-long nap between morning/afternoon classes and evening classes. I miss napping sometimes. :) Today was definitely one of those days where I could have easily snuggled up for a little snooze... but that was completely impossible!

Today was the first day of our church's homeschool co-op. I was (and am!) sooo exited, as this is my only "first day of school" I'll be getting this year.

Although she wouldn't admit it, I think Anna (who was a little nervous about her first day with a teacher she hadn't met) had fun packing our lunches - red pepper vegan hummus from McKay's and veggies for dipping - since, as homeschoolers, we rarely get this pleasure.

Of course, it helped that I tucked in a Peanut Chew bar - the only commercially made candy bar that is milk free! - as a back to school treat.

Ruth was a little jealous. :)

Check out my awesome lunchbag! My best friend, who has gone all creative and artsy on me, designed this bag for my birthday, and I have turned it into my lunchbag as it's just the perfect size for my little bento lunchbox (which I seem to have lost all the little containers out of - boo).

This weekend was really long and busy... you know it's been a long weekend when you're excited about going back to work so you can take it easy! :)

One of the things I love about going back to teaching is the chance to network with other folks who have the same passion for teaching, and the sharing of resources that inevitably follows. I was excited to be able to share some of the treasures I'd found over the summer, like Andrew Adam's Center for Literacy Education and his incredible teaching materials, as well as some terrific thrift-store finds. It's just another reminder that my passion for language and teaching continues regardless of my academic status!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Finding Treasure!

I love thrift shopping. :) I used to say this a little quietly, only to people I was sure also indulged, but I've noticed that some of the gals on some of my fav fashion blogs are listing "thrifted" next to their outfits, so I thought I'd join the proud and the thrifty!

Today I hit my favorite thrift shop, "Hooks & Hangars" in Charlotte Hall. I found quite a cache of finds! (Pardon the poor quality of these photos... I broke my camera this summer so I am relying on my phone, which doesn't quite compare).

I found a peasant-top dress which is really gorgeous (no picture, it can't even begin to show the beautiful autumn colors and print). This will be a great dress to wear with tights when I'm feeling a little lazy. :)

Destined for a care package to my friend Becka is this adorable little makeup case with the motto, "When the going gets tough, the tough get waterproof mascara." :)

Of course, no trip to the thrift store would be complete without books. If this had been a sale day when books are ten cents apiece, I would have come home with many more, but as regular prices applied (fifty cents for a hardcover, twenty-five for a softcover) I limited myself and left behind "Eight Verses Or Less: A Study in Poetry" and a hardcover copy of Lewis' "The Great Divorce" (which would have been my third copy :)). I did, however, pick up this small stack.

I finally have a copy of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, a book about C. S. Lewis entitled The Narnia, a new book entitled Praise Her in the Gates, and Among the Hidden and Among the Imposters, both by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

I am excited about this book about Lewis - he is my favorite author and definitely one of my "spiritual parents." I think every Christian (and every non-Christian too!) should have to read Mere Christianity.

I picked up Praise Her in the Gates out of curiousity and began to skim through it this afternoon. I'm impressed! It seems Biblically accurate and is written in a very encouraging tone. If you want this book after I'm done with it, leave me a comment and I'll be glad to send it along!

Ok... I swore this post would not be about books, but one last comment... has anyone read this new series by Margaret Peterson Haddix? I started to read one of these books years ago, but never finished it... rereading it today was jaw-dropping. The storyline revolves around Luke, a "third child" who is a modern-day Moses in a society where only two children are permitted per family. It's a really insightful critique of the direction our culture is headed, but geared for adolescents. I'll definitely be adding this to my "suggested reads" list.

Other things I've found include this awesome pair of leather boots...

...and purses. Lots and lots of purses! :)

One of the most encouraging things I've learned from the thrift store is that there is really no excuse for not dressing modestly and adorably. I found racks and racks of modest, sturdy, and absolutely adorable skirts in a variety of colors, styles, and materials... cardigans in every color... lots of button downs... dresses and jumpers... all for a fraction of the price you'd pay in a store, and lots of higher-end brands. Especially if you are new to dressing femininely or modestly, I'd encourage you to check out the treasures to be found!

And now, just for kicks, is a funny picture of me with my hair all damp and mussed up from my shower, showing off a pair of $5 multi-colored hippie-inspired oversized sunglasses that I bought on a whim while vacationing with my best friend. They make me smile, so I thought I'd pass along the sunshine. :)

In a little while I'm off for a weekend away with my mother's side of the family - I'm just waiting for my fabulous boss to call so I can drop off the kitten on my way out of town. It was the last workday of the week for three of us at the store today... as you can imagine, we were all a bit antsy and ready to let the weekend commence. Lots to get done before next week, but I'm determined to just lay it aside and enjoy the next few days (and the beautiful weather!). Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Small Bits of Grace

I've been down in the dumps lately... I was sick almost two weeks ago and it seems like even though I'm "better" (i.e. have been forced to go back to work, routine, etc), I've felt really run-down ever since. It seems to take so long for me to recover from anything allergy- or cold-related, and I've just been dragging myself around feeling sick, tired, and depressed. Since fall is usually a time when I begin to struggle more with depression than any other time of the year, the fact that I felt depressed, after doing so well all summer, made me even more depressed (how's that for a vicious circle?!).

I have been trying so hard this week to force myself to feel better - thinking about all the things I have right now that I didn't have this time last year, thinking about all the wonderful experiences that I have been able to have, thinking about all the amazing people I have as resources should I really feel the need to get some input or encouragement.

It didn't really help. On Sunday I felt especially discouraged that, after all that I had learned over the last few years, I still find myself in the same emotional struggles every year...

Today I came home from work and just felt drained, knowing that I had to be up at 3 AM to go back to work, and looking ahead to a (hopefully fun but)stressful weekend on vacation with my family. I was desperate to make myself feel better somehow... all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep.

Instead, I ran on the treadmill with my Fuze cranked up full blast to some uplifting tunes and hit the shower. Instant mood lift! I know that later on in the year, when I am feeling worse, this won't work as a temporary "fix", but at the moment I am grateful for small blessings and a little bit of grace.

Some other things I am thankful for:

~ A manager who always says "Thank you" at the end of the day and means it; who also makes sure everybody gets a break if it is at all humanly possible; who can hold an intelligent conversation so that a really, really long day becomes a little less so.

~ A great haircut, and being friends with the person who makes it happen. :)

~ Coffee and Red Bull, but most of all, enough sleep so that they become luxuries, not necessities.

~ A relationship with my dad that is the best it's been in 10+ years.

~ The amazing way that God has worked in my life, in ways I could not have foreseen or imagined ahead of time.

~ That, despite the fact that I feel myself getting "blue," fall is still my favorite season. And that after fall comes spring, and feeling better. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Resources

Just a few of my fav resources that I use in my own personal research/study, as well as teaching: - I have found very,very few pieces of literature that are not included in this beautiful online repository. To search for a particular piece (or even just browse among the authors!) click on the "authors index" link in the first paragraph. In addition to the literature itself, it offers nice author bios, info on particular works, and a discussion forum where lit buffs can wrangle questions about plot, setting, theme, and anything else that catches their fance. - If I need a worksheet fast and I don't have time to create it from scratch, or if I'm in a bit of an inspiration "slump" and need a fun activity idea, I hit the good folks at While there are many pages limited to their members (I think membership runs about $30 a year and is probably worth every penny), there is a bevy of pages available for free, which tend towards the colorful and fun!

Of course, I'm a stickler for format, so I love The Owl At Purdue. MLA format made easy!